We watch... so you don't have to.

WB: The 'Where's Buffy?' Network

Before announcing his 2001-2002 schedule, the head of the WB read a prepared statement:

"Buffy? Buffy who?

"The WB doesn't need Buffy. We broke up with her, not the other way around. And you didn't hear this from us, but we hear that UPN is going to cut their budget by 90 percent. Plus, Buffy died in the last episode, so the series is essentially over anyway. Ignore anything you hear from Joss Whedon."

So let's hear no more of this talk that the WB has lost its big show. In their real announcement (not that I'm admitting for a second that the previous paragraph may have been fabricated), the WB paid much lip service to the idea that Tuesday will continue to be "appointment television". They're going to achieve this partly though scheduling Gilmore Girls in the 8:00 time slot against, er, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which is now on UPN. This could easily be seen as bad news for Gilmore Girls, which had to deal with being scheduled against both Friends and Survivor 2 this year. But WB executives are confident that longtime WB fans will forget to change the channel or something. Gilmore Girls did fairly well considering its competition, and even won in a key demographic. Unfortunately, that demographic was "teen female viewers", which I'm fairly sure is a category that Buffy has locked down.

The 9:00 Tuesday show, which used to be the second half of the Buffy/Angel block, will now be Smallville, a "dynamic reinterpretation" of the Superman story. In a striking twist entirely unlike Buffy, Clark Kent will be a teenager trying to reconcile everyday teenaged problems with his burgeoning superpowers. Also, Smallville is being beset by strange and unexplained phenomena, but that's also completely unrelated to Buffy and how Sunnydale was the Hellmouth. Forget I even mentioned her.

Thursday will now be "scary reality show night" on the WB. At 8:00, amid a lot of unconvincing hype about how good the band from last year was, Popstars 2 will showcase another group of singers blinded by dreams of fame. At 8:30, something called Elimidate Deluxe is far too complex to describe here. It has something to do with one guy going on four dates at once. And then there's Charmed, which isn't really a reality show, I guess.

Friday will showcase the WB's attempts to "create a break-out comedy", along with Sabrina the Teenage Witch. That's Sabrina, not Buffy. It's hard to tell if the WB is serious about Maybe I'm Adopted (not its real name). They appear to have taken Standard Sitcom Premise #2 (teenage girl with wacky family) and added all sorts of elements that could either backfire (the mother is "It's Pat's" Julia Sweeney, and her wacky character trait is that she's a cheapskate) or be hilarious (the father is a soccer-obsessed Fred Willard, using the goodwill he got from "Best In Show" to score himself a steady paycheck). It's also got identical twins, pop-up graphics, and voice-over narration, so no one can say the WB didn't throw in every sitcom gimmick they could think of.

Every gimmick, that is, except trying to make a sitcom star out of someone who's already successful in another field; they saved that one for Reba McEntire's Deep in the Heart. Because Ms. McEntire is a country-music singer, she's stuck with a show in which her daughter is pregnant by the high school football star and her husband divorces her for his perky dental hygienist. Every time you see the word "rustic" or "plucky" in a review of this show, take a drink.

And then Bob Saget crawls his way back onto television as a widower with two daughters on Raising Dad. And he lives with his father, who's Hesh from The Sopranos. Just avert your eyes, and it's almost like it's not even there.

There are more alleged comedies on Sunday. In addition to Nikki and The Steve Harvey Show, you can look forward to avoiding Off Centre, by the producers of "American Pie" and "Antz." The general impression in the TV industry is that the humor will be closer to the former movie, although you can't completely discount the possibility of digitally animated insects showing up at some point. It has something to do with a pair of male roommates trying to get some. Don't embarrass yourself by asking "some what?"

That's the show that goes with Nikki. The show which goes with The Steve Harvey Show will be Men, Women & Dogs, featuring Bill Bellamy and his three friends hanging around L.A.'s happening dog parks. That's what it says here: "L.A.'s happening dog parks." That's right: forget about discos, night spots, and restaurants. If you're trying to find the happening places in L.A., you go to the dog parks, my friend. Which brings up another question: who calls something "happening" anymore?

Ruining my attempt to describe Sunday as a night of unbridled WB-style comedy, there's an hour of reality-show foolishness at 7:00: Lost in the USA takes four teams, leaves them somewhere in the country, and, unfortunately, chronicles their attempts to do things like bungee jump off Seattle's space needle (which is, incidentally, illegal, so I guess we'll get to see riveting footage of people applying for permits).

In returning shows, which is code for "shows about which we've already made all the jokes we could think of", Angel is moving out of Smallville's way, and will now be on Monday at 9:00 pm, following, for some reason, 7th Heaven. Wednesday will remain the most WB of all of WB's nights, with Dawson's Creek and Felicity.

The most obviously doomed midseason replacement show is A Young Person's Guide to Becoming a Rock Star, because in the role of "embittered old cynical heavy metal has-been", they've cast John "Johnny Rotten" Lydon of the Sex Pistols. Although I'm sure the producers are competent professionals and would never hire someone known for decades to not be interested in working within the Hollywood system or, for that matter, showing up on time.


TeeVee - About Us - Archive - Where We Are Now

Got a comment? Mail us at teevee@teevee.org.

* * *